At first sight Vanessa Baird’s watercolours generate a sense of the fairy tale charm of children’s illustrated books. Graceful lines and delicate pastel shades lure the viewer into a wonderland they believe they have seen before in story books, on old cake tins or old-fashioned china. Appearances are deceptive! The tales that Baird relates are hardly suitable for the young. Her themes derive in part from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but the scenes depicted are transformed drastically, revealing aspects both of violent sexuality and the less glamorous sides of motherhood. The sparkling glow of watercolour is used with biting humour to tell of the wild beast residing in the human breast. Vanessa Baird challenges her medium and her work ranges freely between monumentality and intimacy, between tradition and the avant-garde. Her idiom is daring, playful and blasphemous. Baird’s watercolour tableaux are both sensual and grotesque at the same time.